Reskilling for Research workshop

Today I participated in a “Reskilling for Research” workshop, facilitated by Jenny Cameron. It aimed to provide librarians with an idea of the sorts of new skills that they need in order to support researchers at their institutions. These skills gaps are outlined in the Research Libraries UK’s Re-skilling for Research report which was released last year. A lot of the themes were similar to the presentations which were given at the Research Support Community Day which I attended in Brisbane earlier this year.

The workshop was broken into six sections:

  • Assessing researchers’ information needs
  • Supporting the publication process
  • Managing stuff
  • Research data management
  • Social media and collaboration tools for researchers
  • Training for researchers

The first part was a discussion around how researchers find information (Jenny quoted a CIBER report from 2008 which found that 30% of them start with Google or Google Scholar). Maybe we need to offer a “tips for using Google/Google Scholar” course. I know some libraries do, but we haven’t. Librarians need to insert themselves into the literature searching process, and show that we can add value by being a partner in this daunting process. There was also discussion around the differing needs of researchers who are at different stages of their careers. New Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are heavily influenced by their supervisor, so if we can work with the supervisors and give them a good grounding in using the library effectively, we may actually be helping their students too.

The next section looked at how librarians can researchers in the publication process. Examples of our involvement could include advice on how to select which journal to publish in, explaining Impact Factors and other bibliometric tools, and what to look out for to avoid publishing with a predatory publisher. We can also provide advice on how to ensure that the work of our researchers is both discoverable, i.e. is indexed by appropriate sources, and accessible, i.e. available via open access or in a journal which is widely subscribed to. Jenny also noted the increasing move away from journal-level metrics towards article-level metrics, including the adoption of altmetrics. I also learnt that it is possible for a country to have an h-index, as SCImago can calculate them. The various models of open access publishing were also discussed.

The third section looked at how “stuff” can be managed in order to improve personal effectiveness. Each of the attendees gave examples of how they try and keep abreast of all the information that we receive via different sources e.g. RSS feeds, bookmarking using Delicious, Twitter. The pros and cons of using the cloud for storing “stuff” were also discussed.

Research data management was the next topic, and this was more of an overview rather than an in-depth examination. There are many different ways that libraries have involved themselves in data management. This is something that we’re starting to get involved in, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Next up was the use of social media and other collaborative tools by researchers. I noticed that there were a couple of tweets from attendees at the Web 3.0 conference which were particularly relevant to this discussion:

This is a fairly new area for many researchers, so it seems like a good time for the library to get involved and provide training in to how use these tools most effectively.

There was also a couple of tweets from the RAILS9 conference which summed up the workshop quite well, I think:


All in all it was a very interesting and informative workshop, and gave us all some ideas on new services and approaches that we can offer our researchers.

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About Andrew

I'm a health librarian in Sydney, Australia, who also happens to be a geocacher.

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